This look at Battle Studies by John Mayer is part of my Lessons from series, these are a collection of lessons which I take from looking at everyday things a little differently.
I’ve been sitting on the new John Mayer album, Battle Studies for 2 weeks now, and like the pot of pasta with a do not disturb sign in the back corner of my fridge that’s been there for the same length of time, this album has really taken on a life of it’s own. Unlike the the deadly ex pasta though this album is mostly harmless. See my John Mayer Battle Studies Review for more on the Battle Studies itself track by track. This is not a review though this, like my, Lessons from Stranger than fiction is a look at the lessons I learnt from Battle Studies. Ok a quick run down on the history of this album, Battle Studies is the fourth (excluding his self released, Inside wants out) studio album. An artist taking a nigh on 3 years in these days of the attention deficient masses is fairly rare. However that’s just how long Battle Studies has been in the making. What makes this album really brilliant and sold me from the beginning is that despite the huge success of Continuum this was not an attempt to repeat the success or copy the sound Battle Studies is a stand-alone album.
Sell your art not your soul
That in essence is the lesson I learnt listening to John Mayer’s uneasily honest Battle Studies, it’s not ok to try and find a success recipe and churn out cookie cutter results. True greatness doesn’t come from a mould. True greatness come from people who unwittingly create those moulds. Listening to this album I have no doubt that Mr. Mayer the businessman had a few sleepless nights after long days in the studio pouring his heart onto a hard drive. In the end though after all the agonizing John Mayer, the artist won out, how rare that is in today’s music industry, where a new musician’s image is often decided on long before the first bit of music has been laid down. In all our endeavours there is a battle between the artist and the businessman, the pragmatist and the dreamer. There is a place for all sorts businessmen and dreamers but ultimately we are doomed when the artist makes his decisions like a businessman. There must be that integrity of action in art for creativity to flourish.
Sadly the battle is being won overwhelmingly by business. Money puts food on the table not ideas. Herein lies the problem.
- How do we make money from our passion?
- How do we keep our passion pure?
- How can we keep our integrity while still paying the bills?
These are not problems that John Mayer had to worry about, making Battle Studies, but it is something he was thinking about near on 10 years ago playing in dingy night clubs in Georgia. His bills, now, I’m quite sure get paid each month with a fair amount of spare change. Still I’m quite sure that he met some resistance from the execs who were looking for Continuum 2: The sequel. He has what all of us aspiring artists need, a proven track record of success and courage in his convictions. We need to spend less time thing about what will be successful and more time getting to grips with that courage. As artists, and yes writers are artists too, we need to start experimenting wildly. Only when we have experimented to the nth degree tried and retried every idea we have in the creative toolbox. Only when we’re at peace with our art can we go forth and sell it with the cockiness that comes from mastery. Without that we’re chasing success in a raft without paddles, unable to choose our own course.
The big take home message off this Battle Studies? Art can be bought but real artists can’t. Be an artist of Self development and take control and credit for the change in your life, your extended social group can be a great motivator or your worst enemy if you allow them to influence your work.
There is a warmth to candlelight a warmth that’s has been counteracted in the 21st century. The cold calculated face of technology has stolen that warmth from us. We have light but Somewhere along the way we lost the wonder of light, the glow of candlelight the sound of silence competing with natures orchestra.
I was reminded of my love for that warmth and the sound of that silence last week when some genius in a Coca Cola truck flattened a fairly important pole down the road from me. Plunged into darkness I found myself free. Free from the temptation of the television, free of the drone of the technology, my apartment walls looking a alive as the shadows crept up and down the walls as if chased by the candlelight.
I ended up reading most of the evening in the silence time seemed to be feeling a bit soppy and enveloped me and instead of running away from me as it’s been known to do, we proceeded through the evening in a sweet embrace. For once I didn’t feel rushed or anxious. Technology withdrew and calm descended in the space it left behind.
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Life is often seen as a journey, a long voyage through troubled seas. I disagree life is a a function of the company we keep. Every day our seas are ravaged by storms of adversity and strife. Many of us are caught in amongst swells being thrown about and generally feeling out of control of our vessels and our journey’s.
How do we arrest this and bring our lives under control? Simple, realize that this is just a metaphor, you don’t have to be the boat. Your life need not be out of control and better still you can make it your job to save more vessels in distress.
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Goals should be geared to creating life! More life, to be lived and enjoyed. The more I mull the goal setting and tracking and achieving paradigm the more I think that there is confusion between goals and tasks. The road and the journey. Time and life.
If we are to look forward into our lives, we must not look up the rocky paths that are ahead of us, but rather lift our heads. Look ahead as the proverbial crow flies and look to our goals. That for me is what goals are about. They have to be the compass that guides us out of the wandering paths which split into path after path detour after detour. Goals are the kick in the nuts we need to remind us that the path is not the destination and why giving up is not an option.
Goal gym: Goal Big, work hard!
What does it help us to set these tiny goals? Why aim to get out of bed early if we aren’t planning to use the extra time to take over the world?
- Pick Goals that make you feel!– If a goal doesn’t scare you, thrill you, make you smile like a fool it’s not going to fuel you. Goals only work if they light a fire under you. If you need to keep topping your goals up with interest, passion or excitement you’re destined to fail.
- Pick Goals for yourself! – Only you are accountable to your goals so go large or go home, when you pick goals for yourself you’ll feel the lid lift on what you’re capable of doing.
- Send your goals out into the world – When you go and goal big you need to stay accountable, make your goals a living statement of your life. Blog about it, put up posters notes tattoo your goal above your navel. Turn other people on with your passion!
- Turn your world into a “Goal gym” – Surround yourself with the tools you need to leverage your reality into your goals. Work out on them often. There are finite steps between where you are and where you want to be. Start walking now!
- Go big but keep your number of goals down – This is the big one. Do choose big nasty scary goals. However do choose fewer goals. If you are going to pour your heart, soul and more into your goals you can’t spread yourself thin. Go big on the important goals and the rest will see to itself.
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